Since its Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval in 2017, physicians and their patients have trusted injectable Ozempic to manage type 2 diabetes. Today, Ozempic’s tapping into a new market: People looking to lose weight. As physicians increasingly prescribe Ozempic off-label for weight loss, patients struggle with where to find Ozempic in stock.
That’s because the drug’s rising popularity has led to dwindling availability. Since 2022, there’s been an Ozempic (semaglutide) shortage due to high demand. This isn’t just bad news for people looking to lose weight with Ozempic: It affects patients who use Ozempic for type 2 diabetes, too. As a result of the shortage, people can run into complications from missed doses, including poor blood sugar control and negative effects on their overall well-being.
Experts anticipate Ozempic availability to remain low through 2024. But that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to use the injection or its alternatives to realize your weight loss goals. In this article, we delve into the benefits driving Ozempic’s popularity as a weight loss medication and give tips for navigating (or bypassing) the scarcity.
What is Ozempic?
Ozempic is a brand name of the drug semaglutide, which belongs to a class of medications called glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1) receptor agonists. You can find semaglutide under other brand names, including Rybelus, an oral form, and Wegovy, which is FDA-approved for weight loss in select. individuals.
Ozempic mimics the natural GLP-1 hormone that your digestive tract produces when you eat. The GLP-1 hormone drives the release of insulin, a different hormone that lowers blood sugar. Additionally, GLP-1 signals you to feel full.
Taking Ozempic also slows down digestion, which helps you feel full longer, so you eat less throughout the day. Because you feel less hungry, it’s easier to adhere to a low-calorie diet for weight loss. As long as you commit to healthy eating, exercise, and other mindful behaviors, taking Ozempic can help you lose weight. It’s important to exercise and maintain muscle mass while taking this medication for optimal results.
How Ozempic is taken
Ozempic comes in a convenient, lightweight pen that you can use to inject yourself. To experience optimal results from Ozempic, you need to use the drug consistently and according to your provider’s instructions.
Delays and interruptions in treatment can have negative effects on your blood sugar control and overall well-being, which is why the current shortages are concerning. If you take Ozempic, consider being proactive about your prescription refills so you don’t have delayed or missed doses.
Challenges in finding Ozempic in stock
Many pharmacies have seen their Ozempic supplies dwindle as an increasing number of people use Ozempic off-label (without FDA approval) for weight loss. The process of producing semaglutide is a slow and complex one, which is why the manufacturer of Ozempic, Novo Nordisk, is struggling to keep up with the demand, which recently skyrocketed.
Some smaller independent pharmacies are choosing not to stock the drug altogether. Pharmacies get reimbursed for drug sales after buying medications at wholesale prices. Reimbursements for Ozempic are low because pharmacy benefits managers, who reimburse pharmacies, have an incentive to underpay independent pharmacies.
Doing so helps drive customers to pharmacy benefits managers’ businesses. This leaves independent pharmacies getting back $10 to $40 less than the cost of the medication because they don’t have the negotiating power of larger corporate distributors.
The net result is that consumers are struggling to find Ozempic.
Where to find Ozempic in stock
With some pharmacies depleting their Ozempic inventory and others ceasing to carry the medication, you might have trouble finding Ozempic in stock near you. Fortunately, you can still find Ozempic and its alternatives at many online and in-store pharmacies. And you can check the FDA drug shortages page to see the current general availability for both Ozempic and Wegovy.
Klarity lets you connect with a licensed healthcare provider to prescribe Ozempic or alternative weight-loss medications. To ensure you can fill your Ozempic prescription on time, consider the following sources.
An online pharmacy offers conveniences you may not find at your local pharmacy, like staying home and skipping the line. It can fill your Ozempic prescription and ship the medication directly to your home. Reputable online pharmacies have licensed pharmacists on staff to answer any questions you have about your prescription.
Online pharmacy locators are helpful tools for sourcing Ozempic. Many apps and websites, including insurance plan sites and GoodRX and other pharmacy discount card sites, let you search for pharmacies and/or medications based on your location. Be sure to contact the pharmacy for up-to-date information about Ozempic availability.
Many local pharmacies stock Ozempic and Ozempic alternatives. A great first step is to call or visit your local pharmacy to ask if they have Ozempic in stock. Be sure to provide your prescription details, including your dosage, so they can check their inventory.
If you plan on visiting the same pharmacy repeatedly for your prescription, consider asking your pharmacist about Ozempic’s long-term availability and whether or not the pharmacy has experienced supply issues in the past.
Doctor’s offices or clinics
Some doctor’s offices and clinics have pharmacies in-house to spare you the trip to a secondary location for prescription pick-up. If your doctor’s office or clinic has an in-house pharmacy, they can tell you right away if Ozempic is currently in stock and available for pick-up.
Ask your healthcare provider
Your healthcare provider may have additional advice for finding Ozempic in stock. They might even have other patients who’ve gained helpful insight in their own attempts to find Ozempic. Be sure to ask your provider for tips on where you can find it in stock.
Alternatives to Ozempic
Ozempic isn’t the only medication in its class. With a rising demand for effective weight loss medications, various Ozempic alternatives make it easier for patients to access and use semaglutide and comparable medications. These medications work in the same or a very similar way to help with weight loss and/or type 2 diabetes management.
Through the Klarity platform, you can connect with a knowledgeable independent provider who can counsel you about effective Ozempic alternatives, including the following.
While brand-name Ozempic is used off-label for weight loss, the Wegovy brand of semaglutide is FDA-approved for weight management in eligible adults. Like Ozempic, Wegovy slows down digestion, subdues your appetite, and lowers your blood sugar by stimulating insulin release. It, too, is a weekly self-injection. While Wegovy is an excellent Ozempic alternative, it’s also in short supply.
Ozempic from a compounding pharmacy
Compounding pharmacies produce medications on demand using pharmaceutical-grade active ingredients. You can find semaglutide compounds at compounding pharmacies in many states.
Although compounded semaglutide works the same way as commercial semaglutide, like Ozempic and Wegovy, it doesn’t go through the rigorous process of FDA approval. Still, compound pharmacies may offer viable alternatives to commercial Ozempic for many people during the shortage.
Saxenda and Victoza (liraglutide)
Available under the brand names Saxenda and Victoza, liraglutide is another GLP-1 receptor agonist. Saxenda is FDA-approved for long-term weight management. Victoza is approved to lower blood sugar for type 2 diabetics.
You inject liraglutide once a day instead of weekly, like Ozempic or Wegovy. Otherwise, it works much like semaglutide to support weight loss and blood sugar control.
As with semaglutide brands, there are current shortages of Saxenda and Victoza. Novo Nordisk, the manufacturer that produces Ozempic and other weight loss medications, decided to cut production of Victoza to increase production of Ozempic amidst the shortage.
Contrave is brand-name bupropion-naltrexone. It’s an FDA-approved weight loss medication prescribed alongside a balanced diet and exercise. Bupropion is an antidepressant, and naltrexone is an opioid agonist. Together, the two ingredients reduce cravings and stifle your appetite. You take Contrave orally and gradually increase the dosage based on your provider’s instructions. By the fourth week, most people take two Contrave tablets twice daily.
Xenical and Alli (orlistat)
Under brand names Xenical and Alli, orlistat is a weight loss medication you take alongside a low-calorie, low-fat eating program and exercise. It’s a lipase inhibitor, which means it works by preventing your intestines from absorbing much of the fat you eat.
Xenical is prescription-strength, but Alli is available over the counter. Both medications are taken three times a day by mouth, either during your meals or up to an hour after you eat.
Qsymia is a prescription oral medication to reduce your appetite, thus helping you lose weight alongside a low-calorie diet and exercise program. It’s a combined medication containing phentermine, an appetite suppressant, and topiramate, an antiseizure drug. You take Qsymia every morning with or without food and should drink plenty of water while taking it.
Alternatives for type 2 diabetes
If you’re having trouble finding Ozempic for type 2 diabetes during the shortage, several alternative medications serve the same purpose. Rybelsus is another brand of semaglutide that you take orally once a day. Like other semaglutide brands, Rybelsus is experiencing ongoing shortages.
Other Ozempic alternatives for type 2 diabetes include:
- Trulicity (dulaglutide), a weekly injection
- Byetta (exenatide), a twice-daily injection
- Victoza (liraglutide), a daily injection (covered above)
- Bydureon BCise (extended-release exenatide), a weekly injection
These medications help regulate your blood sugar levels, thus preventing complications from type 2 diabetes. Unlike semaglutide, there aren’t shortages as of the time of publication.
If you use semaglutide to manage type 2 diabetes, talk to your doctor about your best alternative option for Ozempic.
Is Ozempic available over the counter?
Ozempic is a prescription-only medication, which means you won’t be able to find it or most of its alternatives in an aisle at your local drugstore or grocery store.
Find a Healthcare Provider to help with your weight loss needs through Klarity
Consult with a licensed healthcare provider through Klarity on a medication-managed approach to weight loss, Ozempic, and Ozempic alternatives. They’ll evaluate you independently and prescribe the best medication and weight loss program for your needs. Get started today.